Friday Sabbatical

Whatever you’re doing this Friday, wherever you’re going or whatever box you’re checking, I invite you to take a moment, just now, and stop doing it at all.

Here are five things that stuck with me this week:

1. I can’t recommend The Meaning Revolution highly enough. It and Reboot may be my two favorite “business” books, and I actually recommend reading them in succession. In Reboot, Colonna dives deep into personal meaning, and how confronting, embracing, accepting and transcending our personal demons can be the path to our best work. It’s a very functional outline for one’s own “dark night of the soul,” and I’ve written more about it here. Kofman builds upon the inner work that Colonna outlined, reinforcing the necessity of an inner journey to calibrate one’s best possible expression of leadership, and then building upon it with a fairly comprehensive outline of how, and why, one might deploy that unique expression into a company culture that galvanizes employees to find their life’s purpose within your company. Taken together, these two books are a map to transcendent leadership, from the inside out.

2. In a moment that surprised nobody, I found a quasi-competitor in the work I’m doing. I read about the launch of Medley, which leverages the power of small groups to help people grow, this week. The same thing happened when within the first week of launching VNN four competitive products crossed my desk, but it’s different this time. Instead of the dread and competitive fire I felt in a previous life, when I stumbled upon Medley I felt gratitude and love. Strange, those emotions attached to a competitor. But I take it as a sign that the work I’m doing matters, and I’m doing it for the right reasons. I’m committed to the work itself, bringing people together to transcend themselves in community, moreso than my individual success in doing it. I love Medley’s vision, which rhymes with but is distinct from my own, and hope we both are successful. The world will benefit.

3. It’s a journey, transitioning from the work that will generate material success to the work that is most meaningful to you. To the fullest expression of yourself. It requires leaving the safety of social reinforcement, abandoning logical justifications to follow a wordless longing in the depths of your sou. John O’Donohue says it well:

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here 

And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire

That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease

To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging – in love, creativity, and friendship – 

Be equal to the grandeur and call of your soul. 

May the one you long for long for you. 

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire. 

Maya  secret providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling, 

May your mind inhabit your life with which your body inhabits the world. 

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency. 

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

4. We only get one life, and any success we earn we can not take with us. Untold millions of dollars won’t buy us another chance to say what only we can say, if we choose success over our soul’s (for lack of a better term) work. But in the same way that new employees, no matter how well-intentioned, can wrench a company off course in a heartbeat without the right cultural scaffolding, the whirling happenings of a day can do the same for our own work without a similar structure. Sequioa Capital partner Amy Sun recommended doing the work of defining your own individual work as you would a company:

I love this as a means of aligning your life’s work with the work you’re doing every day, or calling out any misalignment in a way that makes it easier to act. I haven’t done this work yet, but I think it’s time to follow Amy’s lead. I think that individual mission/vision/values should be done differently than a company, so I’ll post more about this process once I’ve done the work.

5. Carrying a touchstone in your pocket, a description of the work that the part of you that knows it’s going to die someday needs to do, it becomes easier to walk that path in the face of uncertainty. To let go, fully immerse yourself in what you’re doing as Leo Babauta describes here, and trust that you won’t be lead astray.

May you, dear reader, find your longing, and bring all your hard-won skills and courage to bear in following it.

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